10 free things to do in Bristol

Visiting Bristol? Fantastic. There are so many amazing things to do in Bristol, and the city is famous for its beautiful natural location and cultural history. However, what if you don’t want to spend money on entertainment? What are the best free things to do in Bristol?

This guide will cover all the best free things to do in Bristol. You can be inspired, have fun, and stick to a budget, so don’t worry. Bristol just so happens to be an excellent budget-friendly UK holiday destination.

Let’s dive straight in.

1. Wander Blaise Castle Museum and Estate

Blaise Castle.
Blaise Castle via Unsplash.

Blaise Castle is nothing short of idyllic. The 18th-century decorative castle sits on a 650-acre estate, where you’ll also find a 19th-century house and an art museum to explore. The grounds are manicured and expansive, perfect for picnicking and leisurely walks on sunny days. There are plenty of exhibitions and history to see indoors, making Blaise Castle a great blend of indoor and outdoor activity in Bristol.

Better still? Entrance to Blaise Castle is free. If you want a taste of budget-friendly history in Bristol, it really doesn’t come better than a day at Blaise Castle. Allow at least a few hours to visit, plus longer on hot days so that you can enjoy lazing around on the grass.

*Extra tip: Blaise Castle is only open to the public on set days that are liable to change. Check ahead of time to see if the castle is open when visiting Bristol. If not, enjoy the museum and exterior view instead. *

2. Enjoy Stoke Park

If you like spending time in outdoor spaces, visiting Stoke Park is an incredible free thing to do in Bristol. The park is vast, spanning 270 acres of grassland broken up by ponds and woodland. In the centre of the park sits The Dower House, a bright yellow 16th-century mansion and one of Bristol’s most famous landmarks.

You can visit the park and admire The Dower House from the outside completely free. On certain days of the year, you can also pay a small fee to enter and explore the house itself – which you could treat as an add-on to the free experience if you don’t mind a small splurge.

Allow at least a couple of hours to explore the park. Barn Wood is stunningly covered in bluebells in spring, and there’s a sculpture trail that families can use to keep older children entertained. You can even spot goats and cows.

3. Walk across the Clifton Suspension Bridge

Clifton Suspension Bridge.
Clifton Suspension Bridge via Unsplash.

Clifton Suspension Bridge is the trademark image of Bristol. The bridge spans a massive gorge in a scene that will likely have you questioning whether or not you are actually still in the UK. Clifton Suspension Bridge is dramatic, impressive, and worth placing at the top of your itinerary when visiting Bristol.

Apart from being a stunning example of nature meets architecture, Clifton Suspension Bridge is also one of the best free things to do in Bristol. You can drive across the bridge for free. However, we recommend walking across the pedestrian section. This way, you can take your time to admire the views and truly get a feel for the scale of both the gorge and the bridge itself.

Wanting to get the best angle of the bridge? Climb Cabot Tower (for a small cost) and get the money shot (literally) from the top of the tower. Otherwise, walk the Bristol to Portishead cycle path for a free view of the bridge.

4. Visit the M Shed Museum

M Shed is another free museum to add to your list. The attraction tells the story of Bristol – from its prehistoric beginnings to the events of the present day. Part social history museum, part natural history museum, M Shed is a fascinating addition to our best free things to do in Bristol.

The museum itself is uniquely situated in a 1950s dockside transit shed. You can easily spend two hours wandering the different exhibitions. The museum organisers have done themselves proud with the variety of exhibit mediums. You can watch films, see photographs, look at original artefacts, or take a tour. If you want a fresh, colourful insight into Bristol’s history, M Shed is one of the best free things to do in Bristol.

5. Challenge yourself to complete the River Avon Trail

A swan.
A swan via Unsplash.

Completing the River Avon Trail is no easy feat. However, it is entirely free – so we’ll let you decide whether you are up for the challenge or not.

The trail spans 23 miles and can be tackled in an ambitious day-long hike or over multiple days. The trail itself is beautiful, and you’ll have idyllic riverside scenery to keep you inspired and moving. Some sections are suitable for cyclists and horse riders, although most are pedestrian footpaths only. It is worth checking if you enjoy cycling or riding because you can always complete a smaller section as an easier, single-day activity.

If you love to get active and explore nature, the River Avon Trail is a great activity in Bristol. Since it is totally cost-free, you might even save yourself some money for an ice cream reward.

6. Admire photography exhibits at Martin Parr Foundation

Martin Parr Foundation is a Bristol gallery that is completely free to enter and supports emerging and overlooked artists. Creative, supportive, and a fascinating place to spend a morning, it is easily one of the best free things to do in Bristol.

The photography exhibits are set on a rotation, with artwork frequently changed and new photographers constantly being introduced. If you are an art or photography enthusiast, the Martin Parr Foundation is an absolute must-visit in Bristol. Free admission is just the icing on top of the cake.

Should you catch Bristol on a rainy day, the photography exhibit at the Martin Parr Foundation is entertaining enough to hook in even the most unartistic individual. It is a fun place to visit, no matter your artistic background.

7. Go street art spotting for Banksy’s works

Street art.
Street art via Unsplash.

Speaking of art, you can’t mention Bristol without mentioning one of the greatest street artists of all time. Banksy has scattered work across the city, which you can find independently or on a special street art walking tour. While not many people know, Banksy is believed to be Bristolian, and he has certainly not left Bristol lacking in street art.

To find them independently, head to Jamaica Street Junction. Here you’ll find the Mild Mild West artwork and one of the best places for pictures. You can quickly find a list of Banksy’s main Bristol spots online and then create a walking tour. Otherwise, you can book a guided online like this one.

8. Visit Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery are another one of Bristol’s free gems. The attraction opened its doors in 1905 and has been collecting dinosaurs, mummies, and world-renowned art since. It displays its collection to visitors in what is now considered one of the best museums in the UK.

For a day indoors, it really doesn’t get much better than the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. The diversity of exhibits is fantastic, and you could be looking at a Romany caravan one moment and a dinosaur the next.

Bristol Museum and Art Gallery are perfect for those who want a general taste of history rather than Bristol-specific exhibits. Families and solo travellers can also make the most of the friendly, engaging atmosphere.

9. Meet the animals at Windmill Hill City Farm

A cow.
Windmill Hill City Farm via Unsplash.

For an animal-focused day out, head to Windmill Hill City Farm. The farm is totally free to enter and an amazing day out if you want to stick to a budget while visiting Bristol. Visitors can meet the farm’s resident cows, pigs, sheep, and ducks. There is also a café and gift shop, which is an excellent commercial touch.

While only 4.5 acres, Windmill Hill City Farm is easily a half-day activity. Families will especially enjoy this free attraction in Bristol, with many special events and workshops tailored toward family days out. It’s a great chance to get stuck and dirty your hands in a fun agricultural setting.

10. Ashton Court Estate

Fancy spotting wild animals rather than farm animals? Ashton Court Estate is an 850-acre country estate home to a massive herd of deer. On a sunny (or at least dry) day, walking through Ashton Court Estate is one of the best free things to do in Bristol.

You can grab a takeout coffee from the estate’s café and walk the miles of paths. While ‘wild’, the deer are very accustomed to people, and you should be able to safely get up close. If you visit in August, you may also catch the International Balloon Contest. The contest is a stunning time to visit Ashton Court Estate, and you can witness the phenomenon of hundreds of hot air balloons taking off at once.

You’ve read it yourself – Bristol is full of incredible free things to do. Whether you want to get out and about, explore the best museums, or get close to the best animals in the city, you’ll be well entertained.

Experienced amazing free things to do in Bristol before? Have we missed one out? Feel free to add your recommendations below. 

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